Bangladesh has rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping who arrived on a two-day state visit in Dhaka on Friday.
President Xi’s visit is said to be crucial as he is the first Chinese head of state to visit Bangladesh in 30 years.
A 21-gun salute heralded Xi’s arrival as he stepped down from a special Air China flight to be received by Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid.
Four Bangladesh air force jets escorted the aircraft carrying the Chinese leader as it entered the country’s skyline while a contingent of army, navy and air force accorded him an honour guard as he landed.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency on the eve of Xi’s visit that the tour would usher in a new era of “intensive cooperation” between Dhaka and Beijing.
“We are very happy and feel honoured that President Xi is coming to Bangladesh. I believe that President Xi’s visit will also be more important for South Asia (as well),” she had said.
“China has become our largest trading partner and we consider China as a trusted partner in realising our dreams too. China is the leading generator of many of our mega projects in terms of finance, capitalisation and technology,” she added.
Xi will hold talks with Hasina and join a banquet at Bangabhaban presidential palace.
Earlier this week, Beijing said in a statement the visit would be a “milestone” as “both sides would make deals and bilateral relations would be improved”.
Bangladesh officials said the two countries are expected to sign 25 agreements and MoUs on investment and cooperation. They said the proposed deals would involve billions of dollars in Chinese funding for large infrastructure projects which Bangladesh considered critical to its development ambitions.
India had extended a USD 2 billion line of credit to Bangladesh after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit last year, following up on a USD 1 billion loan in 2010 when his predecessor Manmohan Singh visited Dhaka.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said Xi’s visit would have no negative impact on Bangladesh’s relations with other countries, particularly with India.
(With inputs from agencies)